Mapping The Ecommerce Customer Journey: A Guide For Marketers

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Malomo Staff

Staff

Customer service strategy builds upon the cornerstone of a "map" or "service blueprint." Ideas about how we should look at our customer touchpoints have continued to evolve as things like ecommerce businesses have become more popular and customer needs have shifted. More recently, the concept of a customer journey map (CJM) has become more popular, focusing on customer retention, pain points, and customer personas.

In the time of Amazon, the focus for a customer's experience has shifted slowly from a brick-and-mortar mindset to one that includes online store platforms.

As these mediums have changed, so have our interactions with visitors and how we approach engagement. What hasn't changed, however, is the need for a customer journey map template. Research from Dimension Data shows that 81% of companies consider the customer experience as a competitive differentiator. This research also reveals that a better customer experience also leads to companies reporting increased customer loyalty (92%), increased revenue (84%), and cost savings (79%).

With more than two-thirds of customers willing to buy from a company due to customer experience alone, ecommerce sites need to consider their CX carefully. Creating an ecommerce customer journey map can generate stronger brand loyalty, improve marketing campaigns, and streamline your checkout process to serve your customers best.

Understanding the customer journey phases and examining potential pain points can dramatically improve your customer experience and give you an edge over the competition.

What is the Customer Journey?

The customer journey looks at your entire customer experience, starting from when they first hear about your company. Analyzing your complete customer journey gives you insight into the stages of how the customer interacts with your company. Every step of this process requires particular focus and customized approaches, so understanding the stages of the ecommerce customer journey is crucial to providing an engaging experience.

Awareness Phase

When you first notice a pain point or realize you have a problem as a consumer, you start looking into alleviating the issue. Whether through social media like Facebook or Instagram, physical retailers, or e-commerce stores, clients will be trying to find a solution to their specific problem. Within an e-commerce customer journey, consider this phase the customer's first impression.

To succeed at this step, you need to look at how your customer found your site. Are customers finding your ecommerce store through email marketing, blog posts, or ads online? However they are discovering you, customers should easily find how your offering will alleviate their problem. This attention to barriers should include easy website navigation and clear copy or videos that convey what you provide. By immediately showing your customers how you can help, you reduce bounce rates from frustrated visitors trying to conduct research. Using AI to improve search relevancy can also go a long way toward helping customers find what they need and improve conversion rates and reduce cart abandonment.

Consideration Phase

By this second stage, your customers have looked at a few of their options. Now, they are trying to do more profound comparison research to see which company will provide them with the best solution: you or your competitors. When trying to improve your customer experience during this stage, think about how your company looks when set up next to other potential solutions. Think about how your product or your pricing makes you better and whether or not you convey that.

Price transparency

At this point, price comparison is inevitable. Making it hard to find your pricing can be frustrating for customers comparing you to other solutions that may easily display this information. Unless you have a good reason not to make your pricing easy to find, such as consistently custom solutions, you should give an estimated value of your goods or services. Brand awareness may come into play here when directly compared to other companies. It also is very likely that the customer will attempt to contact you at this stage to gather more information. If they contact your company, your response should be as quick as possible to lower the chance of losing them as a customer.

Decision Phase

The decision phase begins once a customer has gotten approval for your product and made the purchase. While you may initially think that the journey ends here, you have to continue to foster that relationship if you want to retain your customers. Once they have picked which product of yours they will be going forward with, immediately welcome them to your product or service. Your goal now is retention.

It is far more profitable to keep on happy customers than to generate new leads. If not supported and taken care of, customers will lose trust and not want to repurchase. At this point, you want to closely examine customer behavior to see how you can best provide information and assistance. This process is how you upkeep your customer satisfaction and approval ratings. Keep communication open with your customers and do your best to anticipate their problems before they even notice them.

Loyalty Phase

Also sometimes referred to as advocacy, this phase of the customer journey is vital. As your customers grow attached to your brand, they will not only continue to use your products but will advocate and market for you free of charge by word of mouth. By fostering your relationship with your customers throughout the previous processes, you can help plant this seed of respect and loyalty.

The loyalty phase marks the beginning of "closing the loop," also referred to as the McKinsey Loyalty Loop, which posits that the marketing journey is not linear but circular, focusing on the post-purchase customer experience as a way to shepherd customers back into the sales funnel, so they continue making purchases.

Another way to take action at this stage is through showing appreciation to your client base directly through a loyalty program or offer. These opportunities show that you value your customer, want to grow that relationship, and provide real incentives to stay with your product.

Another great strategy is to use these opportunities to ask customers to share your company or product with others and give rewards for any newly onboarded clients acquired this way.

Customer Journey vs. Buyer Lifecycle

As we have described, the customer journey goes through the phases that customers will experience as they interact with your product. The customer journey is often confused with the customer lifecycle, also known as the buyer lifecycle. The simplest way to describe the difference is that the buyer lifecycle focuses more on your perspective as the ecommerce store.

In contrast, the customer journey focuses on the customer's perspective as they interact with it.

Your buyer lifecycle is a tool that is made and examined by your sales team or marketing team. These groups use the different parts of this lifecycle to determine how to implement marketing or sales tactics during different phases. Different companies use unique steps depending on their workflow, but here is a standard set of lead stages by HubSpot:

  • Subscriber: Someone who has opted in through a blog or newsletter.

  • Lead: Someone who has converted through an interaction besides signing up for a subscription.

  • Marketing Qualified Lead: Someone that your marketing team qualifies as ready for the sales team.

  • Sales Qualified Lead: Someone that your sales team has qualified as a potential customer.

  • Opportunity: Someone who is involved in a potential deal.

  • Customer: Someone with at least one closed deal.

  • Evangelist: Someone who has advocated for your company.

  • Other: Someone outside of all of these stages.

What is a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map is a visually mapped-out version of your customer journey. Think of it as a storyboard for a movie - you see every step along with the customer's story or journey as they interact with your brand. Making these stages easy to conceptualize visually can help you find potential weak points or areas where you perform exceptionally well. A customer map should include how multiple types of customers may experience your ecommerce store, including variations such as different client bases, unique points of initial contact, and varying avenues of product and service choices.

Benefits of a Customer Journey Map

There are several benefits to mapping out customer pain points and corresponding touchpoints in an organized fashion.

Give customers the right resources at the right time

When you look at your complete customer journey map, you can better see what resources your customer may need at different steps within the process. Giving clients what they need before they have to ask for it can build respect and loyalty within your customer base while also making the experience of working with your company smoother.

Test your value proposition

Your value proposition is what makes your brand interesting or attractive to your customer base. While your customer journey map visualizes your customer experience, the value proposition convinces the customer to continue that path. You can test your value proposition by seeing how well it propels your customers through to the next buying phase.

Reveal buyer needs and pain points

As you look at your visual map, it will become apparent where customers are experiencing pain points and where their needs are. By addressing these areas, you can get a step ahead on potential complaints or issues customers may have, improving the overall customer experience.

Show product and marketing weaknesses

When you examine your value proposition in combination with your buyer's needs and pain points, you will start to see where your product or marketing may not be compelling enough or may not address those buyer concerns. Adding clarity to these areas to directly interact with customer needs is crucial to retaining your potential buyers.

Inform product roadmap

Product roadmaps show how your service or product will meet your company goals. For many companies, this can mean things such as product update rollouts or new services. By comparing your product roadmap and customer journey, you use potential customer pain points to inform new items of your product roadmap.

Optimize resource allocation

When choosing where to allocate your time and resources, the customer journey map is a great place to see where you may need more attention and contact. You can use these points to determine how much money and team resources to dedicate to different steps in the process.

How to Map the Customer Journey

Correctly mapping your customer journey is the key to getting as much as possible out of it. To make a comprehensive map, you will want to follow these simple steps. Remember, you can always revisit these steps as your customer base expands and evolves.

1. Build buyer personas

Buyer personas are are profiles of ideal customers based on who most often interacts with your brand and any market research you may have done. Most companies have more than one buyer persona. For these profiles, you will want to segment your customers based on demographics, their pain points, and their needs. You will then examine how these unique buyer personas would experience your product, creating an exceptional customer journey map.

2. Identify priority initiatives

Priority Initiatives (a term coined by Adele Revella of the Buyer Persona Institute) explain why some buyers invest their time, budget, and political capital to resolve the pain our solutions address while others accept the status quo. By understanding these critical motivating factors, you can create content and resources that speak to these specific action-triggering customer pain points.

3. Define buyer stages

It is finally time to go through the detailed buyer stages. These stages fit within the Awareness, Consideration, Decision, and Loyalty phases defined above. However, the stages should be rooted in accurate customer data and experience and unique to your specific buying funnel.

Conclusion

A customer journey map is a crucial tool in understanding the customer experience. Companies that excel in their customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors, as customers are willing to pay a 16% price premium for a better experience. It only takes one misstep to lose 32% of customers forever, even if loyal to you. By utilizing the customer journey map to find the weak points in your customer experience, you can improve customer loyalty, better allocate your resources, and more proactively address buyer needs.

Close the Loop with Malomo

As more marketing teams focus on circular marketing and closing the loop, optimizing the post-purchase experience is quickly becoming a recognized way to drive repeat business. Malomo can be a powerful tool to improve your customer journey, turning shipment tracking into a profitable marketing channel. This platform can send proactive updates on shipping to prevent questions before they arise, help customers back to your website with custom tracking, and educate customers on their products, improving customer satisfaction. To learn how branded shipment tracking can revolutionize your customer journey, get a demo of Malomo today.

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